Aristotle - The Organon TOPICA Book 3 Part 3

The particular virtue of species

1. Moreover, of things that belong to the same species one which possesses the peculiar virtue of the species is more desirable than one which does not. If both possess it, then the one which possesses it in a greater degree is more desirable.

2. Moreover, if one thing makes good whatever it touches, while another does not, the former is more desirable, just as also what makes things warm is warmer than what does not. If both do so, then that one is more desirable which does so in a greater degree, or if it render good the better and more important object - if (e.g.), the one makes good the soul, and the other the body.

3. Moreover, judge things by their inflexions and uses and actions and works, and judge these by them: for they go with each other: e.g. if 'justly' means something more desirable than 'courageously', then also justice means something more desirable than courage; and if justice be more desirable than courage, then also 'justly' means something more desirable than 'courageously'. Similarly also in the other cases.

4. Moreover, if one thing exceeds while the other falls short of the same standard of good, the one which exceeds is the more desirable; or if the one exceeds an even higher standard. Nay more, if there be two things both preferable to something, the one which is more highly preferable to it is more desirable than the less highly preferable. Moreover, when the excess of a thing is more desirable than the excess of something else, that thing is itself also more desirable than the other, as (e.g.) friendship than money: for an excess of friendship is more desirable than an excess of money. So also that of which a man would rather that it were his by his own doing is more desirable than what he would rather get by another's doing, e.g. friends than money. Moreover, judge by means of an addition, and see if the addition of A to the same thing as B makes the whole more desirable than does the addition of B. You must, however, beware of adducing a case in which the common term uses, or in some other way helps the case of, one of the things added to it, but not the other, as (e.g.) if you took a saw and a sickle in combination with the art of carpentry: for in the combination the saw is a more desirable thing, but it is not a more desirable thing without qualification. Again, a thing is more desirable if, when added to a lesser good, it makes the whole greater good. Likewise, also, you should judge by means of subtraction: for the thing upon whose subtraction the remainder is a lesser good may be taken to be a greater good, whichever it be whose subtraction makes the remainder a lesser good.

5. Also, if one thing be desirable for itself, and the other for the look of it, the former is more desirable, as (e.g.) health than beauty. A thing is defined as being desired for the look of it if, supposing no one knew of it, you would not care to have it. Also, it is more desirable both for itself and for the look of it, while the other thing is desirable on the one ground alone. Also, whichever is the more precious for itself, is also better and more desirable. A thing may be taken to be more precious in itself which we choose rather for itself, without anything else being likely to come of it.

6. Moreover, you should distinguish in how many senses 'desirable' is used, and with a view to what ends, e.g. expediency or honour or pleasure. For what is useful for all or most of them may be taken to be more desirable than what is not useful in like manner. If the same characters belong to both things you should look and see which possesses them more markedly, i.e. which of the two is the more pleasant or more honourable or more expedient. Again, that is more desirable which serves the better purpose, e.g. that which serves to promote virtue more than that which serves to promote pleasure. Likewise also in the case of objectionable things; for that is more objectionable which stands more in the way of what is desirable, e.g. disease more than ugliness: for disease is a greater hindrance both to pleasure and to being good.

7. Moreover, argue by showing that the thing in question is in like measure objectionable and desirable: for a thing of such a character that a man might well desire and object to it alike is less desirable than the other which is desirable only.

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